The Colorado Avalanche scored seven unanswered goals to beat the Seattle Kraken in the team’s first ever trip to Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. It was the fourth consecutive win for the Avalanche and the sixth consecutive loss for the Kraken.
The goal scoring onslaught from the Avalanche chased backup goaltender Chris Driedger from the game in the second period, giving former Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer a chance to face his old team. Driedger surrendered four goals on 13 shots; Grubauer didn’t fare much better, surrendering three goals himself.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
All Hail Cale
Colorado defenseman Cale Makar was electric in the win. Former Calder Trophy winner, and runner up for last year’s Norris Trophy, Makar finished the game with two goals and an assist. It was his second consecutive multi-point game and his third this season. It was his eighth career three-point game, tying him for third in franchise history. He’s playing in only his third full season.
“Just trying to get the legs back and making sure that I can contribute every night for the team,” Makar said after the game. I know this isn’t going to happen every night where you get two goals, but at the same time, we’re creating those chances and that’s what’s giving us opportunities to get those goals.”
Makar has stepped up his game in the last few starts. Recovering from an undisclosed offseason medical procedure, he was slow out of the starting gate this year. In his first eight games, he had six points with a plus/minus of -10. Since then, he has seven points in four games with a plus/minus of +4.
The biggest difference in those games might be the return of Devon Toews, Makar’s linemate. Toews missed the early part of the campaign recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Since his return, he has four points in five games with a plus/minus of +7. The argument can be made that the duo is the most potent defensive pairing in the league.
Special Teams Continues to Roll
Friday’s game was the fourth straight contest in which the Avalanche scored at least one power-play goal, and it was the third of the last four games in which they scored multiple power-play goals, scoring twice last night with the man advantage.
The team opened the scoring with an unassisted power-play goal from Andre Burakovsky just 4:04 into the game. Burakovsky, projected to be on the roster for Team Sweden in the upcoming Olympic games, scored a second power-play goal 5:33 into the second period.
But perhaps the most exciting play of the night was a shorthanded goal from Valeri Nichushkin in the first period. With the Seattle defenders pinching in along the boards, Tyson Jost poked the puck out of the zone, allowing Nichushkin to get behind the defense for a clean breakaway. As Driedger dropped his right pad, Nichushkin beat him high on the stick side for his second goal of the season.
The goal was Colorado’s third shorthanded goal in the last four games and their league-leading fourth of the season. The team did surrender two power-play goals in the third period, but the game was already out of reach for Seattle.
Bednar’s New Deal
Prior to the game, the Avalanche announced a two-year contract extension for head coach Jared Bednar. Now the fifth longest-tenured coach in the league, Bednar has a record of 192-154-40 with Colorado, and with just two more wins will become the winningest coach Avalanche history and second place all time for the Avalanche/Nordiques franchise.
“Jared has established himself as one of the top coaches in the NHL,” said Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic in a release announcing the news. “He is a great leader who has the complete trust of our players and staff. Under his guidance our team has continued to make great strides and improve every year. We know he is the right person to help us take that next step and compete for a Stanley Cup.”
The Avalanche head back home to face the Ottawa Senators Monday night. It’s expected to be Ottawa’s first game back after they had three games canceled due to a COVID outbreak.
Hockey dad, beer league hockey captain, rabid Avalanche fan. Author of five novels for young adults, including The Scar Boys, Life in a Fishbowl, and Hard Wired. Lives in Littleton, Colorado with two middle school-age kids, one awesome wife, and three pets. Voted least likely to break 100 on a golf course.